Scaly Movie exhibition showcased at Sternberg Museum

Screams and cries echo as a deep and raspy voice breaks in and boldly proclaims, "They're poisonous, they're hungry. Welcome to the bottom of the food chain." This 1999 horror film, "Komodo," features a dragon lizard as a vicious and dangerous giant running rampant on an island chomping on any human that crosses its path. The dragon lizard in the trailer is a prime example of Hollywood's depiction of lizards, snakes, alligators and other reptiles and amphibians in a false light.

"Scaly Movie: Unnatural History in Movie Posters," an exhibition in Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History, addresses many films through a 50s-style drive-in movie theatre atmosphere. Visitors to the museum can sit and watch trailers to a few movies and listen to Sternberg Museum curators Travis Taggart and Curtis Schmidt as they provide an Ebert and Roeper-style debate about the quality and social significance of those movies. Interspersed with the trailers are 1950s-quality advertisements for the exhibition's sponsors, filmed in Hays using local citizens as actors.

The trailer theatre is at the end of a maze of about 80 vintage posters, some are in foreign languages, from the personal collection of Taggart. A mixture of genres is on display in posters: of "Kermit's Swamp Years," "The Junglebook," "Anaconda," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Ace Ventura" and "Frogs." The dim lighting and the echoing roar of the Sternberg Museum's T-rex add to the intensity.

This display is great for people looking to rekindle a piece of their movie past or for those who want to get a glimpse of what films were like before computer animation. The exhibit took several months to piece together and will be available for visitors until Dec. 30.  

Sternberg Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission for adults (13-59) is $6, seniors (60 and over) is $4, youth (4-12) is $4 and $3 for FHSU students with valid ID.

All FHSU students, faculty and staff with a valid Tiger Card can visit the Sternberg Museum free from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23. For more information on the museum or upcoming events, please visit

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